How to make sure that PLF truly improves animal welfare?

Onderzoeksoutput: Hoofdstuk in Boek/Rapport/CongresprocedureC3: Congres abstract


PLF is often advocated for its opportunities to improve animal welfare, but potential threats are rarely mentioned. I discuss 4 such threats. First, animal welfare problems that are expressed unordinary may not trigger a warning and may thus go unnoticed. This can partly be dealt with by focusing on multiple predictor variables that are generic welfare indicators, and by proper algorithm validation to produce accurate alerts in a wide variety of conditions. Another part of the solution is to ensure that PLF does not replace direct problem detection by caretakers. However, the rise of PLF may reduce the likelihood of caretakers directly noticing welfare problems because of the other two threats: reduced contact with the animals and reduced skills to detect problems during such contacts. With labour heavily affecting production costs it is likely that a rise in PLF will facilitate on-going trends of increased herd size and animals per stockperson. This poses risks as deep knowledge of the normal behaviour of all animals in the herd is needed for detecting early signs of abnormalities. Furthermore, social psychology studies indicate that intimate contact with animals strongly affects people’s attitude and hence behaviour towards them. Moreover, with the rise of PLF the personality profile of a successful farmer will likely shift from animal to technology-centered. The consequences of less animal contact and of being more technology-minded on farmers’ care, attitude and behaviour towards their animals have hardly been studied. Further industrialization facilitates the instrumentalisation of animals which increasingly conflicts with citizens’ moral concerns for sentient beings. The final threat concerns the vulnerability of animals kept in highly automated, minimally staffed, large-scale farms to technological break-downs. Back-up plans would need to safeguard the interests of the animals but may be expensive to install, maintain and implement. To conclude: PLF is booming in animal production science and marketing, partly by emphasizing the opportunities for animal welfare. However, the potential threats of PLF for animal welfare and for the social license to produce food from animals need to be acknowledged and studied as well.
TitelBook of Abstracts of the 70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (26-30 August 2019, Ghent, Belgium)
Plaats productieWageningen, The Netherlands
UitgeverijWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN van geprinte versie978-90-8686-339-6
ISBN van elektronische versie978-90-8686-890-2
StatusGepubliceerd - 2019
Evenement70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science - ICC, Ghent, België
Duur: 26-aug-201930-aug-2019

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